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DHL heir arrested during daring sea escape in Palau

[KOROR, Palau] An heir to the DHL Express empire was back in custody in the tiny Pacific nation of Palau, police said on Saturday, after he was plucked from the sea trying to evade capture.

Junior Larry Hillbroom, a multi-millionaire who holds US and Palauan passports, escaped from Koror Jail on Thursday night after appearing in court on a drug trafficking charge that carries a sentence of 25-50 years in jail.

The head of the Palau police drug task force, Ismael Aguon, said that Hillbroom was tracked down to a car parked near the docks in a town called Meyuns Hamlet just before midnight on Friday.

When police swooped, he dived into the water and tried to swim away but was soon arrested, Aguon said.

Hillbroom is a son of DHL founder Larry Hillblom although their surnames are spelled differently.

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He was arrested after the seizure of 160g of methamphetamine, and pleaded not guilty to a trafficking charge during a court appearance on Thursday.

When he was taken back to jail, Hillbroom fled while talking to a visitor inside the Division of Corrections office and was driven away in a waiting vehicle.

According to court documents, two women who were arrested with the drugs following a flight from Manila to Palau claimed that Hillbroom "offered to pay them when they arrived in Palau".

The documents allege Hillbroom paid for the women's airline tickets and they recorded a phone call to him in which he acknowledged his role in the plan.

Hillbroom faced one charge of trafficking in a controlled substance, with local officials saying the drugs would be worth US$160,000 in Palau.


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